On the efficacy of star charts

Dry July was an interesting experience. The first few days were the most difficult, but then I settled in a pattern of not drinking. I found that if I could get through the witching hour each evening, then I did not miss having a drink in the evenings. I substituted sparkling mineral water for a glass of dry white, and that seemed to satisfy the something-to-sip urge. Cutting out alcohol did not result in any weight loss, perhaps because my chocolate consumption went up. As did my consumption of other heavily fatty foods, as the loss of one taste experience made me crave other tastes. Fortunately, my insomnia continued: I had been worried that I was going to have to chalk it up to wine-bibbing, but it turns out to be something that I can do with or without the assistance of the demon drink.

Being in it together with my partner, and with friends from across the country helped. But the thing that made the biggest difference was my Dry July star chart. A little reward every day! However even more than the daily reward, the fear of public humiliation provided an excellent incentive to keep at it. I had made a promise to myself, and to my friends who read this blog, that I would complete the month and the star chart, and knowing that I would fail myself, and let my friends down, albeit in respect of a one-sided promise (no one asked me to make the promise), helped me to resist the temptation to pick up a glass. That, and emptying out the wine cellar before the month started, so it was comparatively difficult to get a bottle of wine, made all the difference.

I enjoyed completing the star chart, thinking of items to go on it, and writing up each day’s post. I kept a list of possible items, and there were still some left at the end. Some people offered excellent suggestions for the star chart: thank you very much to Harvest Bird, David Slack, formerly of Public Address, Mindy of Hoyden about Town, Ele at HomePaddock, my lovely uncle, and Mr Strange Land. Thank you also to my dad, who told me the story about the satellite going plumb through the pot (see Star the twenty-fifth). I used all the suggestions given to me, bar one beautiful poem that Ele sent, which I’m hoping she will put on her own blog sometime.

And thank you to all the kind people who cheered me and Mr Strange Land and Tigtog and Mr Tog on, and congratulated us when it was over. I appreciated your support.

I have become convinced by the merits of star charts, ‘though I suspect that to be truly effective, they have to carry a tangible reward, or punishment for failure to complete. I need to start getting back into doing some exercise: perhaps I can bribe myself to get out and pound the pavements in the morning if I can complete a star chart leading towards some goal. Something just for me. A bike, maybe…

Ah… no. No, I don’t think I will do it again next year. ‘Though ask me again next June.

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6 responses to “On the efficacy of star charts

  1. Way to go! I didn’t do it, mainly because I drink so little anyway, but mainly because my birthday is in July. Lame. If I only have the very odd glass of wine, one of them must be on my birthday, so went the justification for piking.

    I like the idea of an incentive to get daily excercise. I find it really hard to fit it in through winter. If by some extreme luck I am still in bed, undisturbed at 6- 6.30am I can’t get out of a warm bed to go running, then the whole house is up and into it and the window closes. Some reward system just for me might help.

    Good on you for sticking with Dry July.

  2. Well done on the “Dry July”, and thank you for the different and interesting stars throughout your “journey”; finding all those would have been more of a challenge than not drinking!

    As for “incentives” to exercise… a friend treats herself to a massage every X trips to the gym. Would work for me!

  3. An incentive is a good idea, especially one that you get periodically rather than at the end. I like the idea of a massage after every X time of doing something healthy.

    I really enjoyed your Dry July journey and I hope that you are feeling better for doing it – at least a big sense of achievement. I don’t think we would have made a big fuss if you’d had a drink, we all fall off our respective wagons at some time. I think mine might have trundled out of sight at the moment!

  4. yah for you! I knew that you’d make it

  5. Well done, Deborah. I hope you have suitably toasted your success.
    I agree with you about the merits of star charts (and that, oddly, earning the right to write a post is a real reward, rather than a burden.)
    But the really interesting territory is the power of the “fear of public humiliation”, aka shame. There is something about living (at least part of) our life in public that binds us to each other more strongly, and makes us reach for our better selves.

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